Pasta with Snap Peas, Basil, & Olives

pasta with snap peas

Here’s a dish filled with my favorite things: pasta, fresh vegetables, olives, basil, and hella garlic. Cooking the garlic slowly over low heat brings out all sorts of wonderful (and keeps it from getting bitter); the lemon zest keeps things bright.  The hemp seeds aren’t entirely necessary, but are tasty and full of protein and essential fatty acids (EFAs).  I keep a bag in my freezer for sprinkling on things like salad and avocado toast.  If you can’t find snap peas, substitute frozen peas, preferably the petite kind.  Simply add to the pasta water a minute or so before draining time.

garlic

12 oz pasta (I used this kind)
8 oz (about 2 cups) snap peas
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 Tb olive oil, plus a bit more
zest from 1 lemon
2-3 Tb shelled hemp seeds (optional)
heaping ¼ cup of olives, preferably kalamata, pitted and halved
generous handful of fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. To make snap peas: Set a pot of salted water to boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water. Cook peas in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain and immediately place in ice water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
  2. Cook garlic in oil in small pan over very low heat, agitating now and then, for 10-15 minutes, til translucent and very fragrant.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. When done (and drained), toss with garlic and oil, snap peas, lemon zest, and olives. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle on hemp seeds, drizzle with a tiny bit more olive oil, and tear in the basil. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield: About 4 servings

snap peas

 

 

Baby Bok Choy + Tofu Stir-Fry

stir-fry

Back in my early days as a vegetarian, my mom and I would sometimes make a stir-fry together. It usually involved broccoli and always incorporated those classic stir-fry flavors of soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger– along with a little homemade apricot jam for that extra somethin’ somethin’.  Though my universe of vegetable-centric cuisine has expanded significantly since then, I still find comfort in a good stir-fry.

baby bok choy
ginger, garlic, seasoningstofu

1to 1½ tb coconut oil, divided
1 tsp nutritional yeast
¼ tsp garlic powder
1 package firm tofu
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tb minced fresh ginger
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 bunch (about 8) baby bok choy (pak choi), washed well, rough very bottom edges sliced off
¼ to ½ cup vegetable broth or water
1 Tb + a few splashes of tamari
1 tsp toasted sesame seed oil
¼ cup cashews

rice, quinoa, or noodles for serving (optional)
sriracha for serving (optional)

  1. Pat tofu with a couple paper towels. Cut into 1” cubes, then pat again to soak up extra moisture.
  2. Mix nutritional yeast and garlic powder in a small dish.
  3. Heat ½ Tb of coconut oil in a large wok or skillet over medium high heat. Add tofu cubes, sprinkle with nutritional yeast-garlic powder mixture, and stir gently to distribute seasonings. Then let cook– without touching, so it can crisp up– for about 5 minutes. Turn down the heat (just for your own safety), carefully flip over the tofu, and splash with some tamari. Turn heat back up, and cook (without touching) for about 5 more minutes. Turn off burner and transfer tofu to another dish. Let the pan cool a little bit, then give it a gentle wipe with a paper towel to remove any blackened bits.
  4. Cook garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes in remaining ½ (or more) Tb of coconut oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Stir in baby bok choy. Add broth or water, turn heat to medium high, and cook, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove lid, add 1 Tb tamari and let cook for about another minute. Lower heat, stir in prepared tofu, cashews, and sesame oil. Cook for a minute or two, warming up the tofu and allowing all the flavors to meld. Serve with grain of choice and sriracha, if desired.

Yield: 3-4 servings

Mica and baby bok choy

Lentil & Spinach Soup

Lentil Spinach Soup

Lightly adapted from Donna Klein’s Lentil and Escarole Soup, from her fabulous book, The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen

Recently in New York we experienced some really beautiful, warm(!) weather.  I opened my windows, walked through the park, indulged in tulips and basil and ice cream (Steve’s Dark Chocolate Salty Caramel– OMG). Now, of course, it is cold again, as it no doubt will be for many more days to come. So while just last week I was craving salads and smoothies, now I want hot food– by the bowlful. This is the lentil soup I make over and over again, not terribly complex yet still full of flavor and so, so nourishing.
*I prefer fresh tomatoes here, but canned also work great. Your soup will just taste more… tomato-y.

2 Tb olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 medium carrots OR 2 handfuls of baby carrots, chopped
1 not too big yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1¼ cups green or brown lentils, rinsed and sorted
6 cups liquid (I use water + 1½ veg bouillon squares or 3 cups water + 3 cups veg broth)
1 tsp ground cumin
1½ cups diced new potatoes, unpeeled (I like them unpeeled and kind of chunky, about ¾” dice)
10 oz spinach, either fresh or frozen (if frozen then slightly thawed)
juice from ½ a lemon
salt and black pepper to taste

  1. In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add carrots, onion, and garlic, and cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently and turning down heat as needed.
  2. Add tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes more.
  3. Add lentils, liquid, cumin, and a couple dashes of salt and pepper.  Turn up heat and bring to a boil.  Then cover, lower heat, and simmer for about 20-25 minutes, stirring every once in a while.
  4. Add potatoes, turn up heat slightly, and cook, covered, for another 15-20 minutes.
  5. When soup is just about done, stir in spinach and lemon juice.  Cook for a few minutes more. Check for seasonings.  Serve with a little drizzle of olive oil.  Also great with a splash of Tabasco.

Yield: About 6 servings

Soba Noodles with Butternut Squash, Kale, & Pine Nuts

soba with butternut squash, kale, pinenuts

I love the way the flavors in this dish work together: there’s a little smokiness, a little sweetness, and a little tang– all in a warming, earthy tangle. I chose butternut squash because that’s what I had on hand, but I’m sure other types of winter squash would be equally delicious. I followed Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s recipe for roasting the squash and it turned out perfectly.
*To toast the pine nuts, heat in a dry skillet over medium heat for a couple of minutes, watching closely, just until lightly browned and fragrant.
*If you don’t have a steamer you could try one of these methods for steaming the kale, or even the microwave. Whatever works!

butternut squash  butternut squash

1 cup roasted butternut squash cubes (I used 1 small butternut)
1 smallish bunch of kale, rough stems removed, chopped
1 package of soba noodles
¼ cup toasted pine nuts

For the dressing, whisk together:
2 Tb tamari (or soy sauce)
2 Tb rice wine vinegar
1 Tb toasted sesame oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

  1. Cook soba according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, steam kale with a tiny dash of salt in a metal steamer with lid over medium-high heat, for 4-5 minutes. This may have to be done in batches.
  3. Toss soba with kale and dressing, and sprinkle with pine nuts. Taste and see if you want to add a little more tamari or other dressing ingredients.

Yield: About 3 servings

soba with butternut squash, kale, pinenuts

Lentil Salad with Dill & Almonds

LENTIL SALAD

A yummy fall salad, perfect for a packed lunch or as part of a bigger spread.  The combination of dill and roasted almonds is inspired by the Whole Earth Salad from the Hungry Hollow Co-Op in Chestnut Ridge, NY.  It’s a delicious creation featuring baked tofu and cabbage, simultaneously light and satisfying.  This lentil salad, too, is herbaceous and earthy and full of crunch, with plenty of tanginess via fresh lemon juice and sherry vinegar.  It tastes best after a good sit in the fridge, ideally over night.  Add a bit of red onion if you like; I didn’t find it necessary, but then again I’m not that crazy about raw onion in general.  Some quinoa would also be awesome here.

LENTIL SALAD
1 cup French lentils, rinsed and sorted
Juice from 1-2 lemons
1/4+ tsp salt
black pepper
1 smallish beet, grated
1/2 carrot, grated or cut in thin strips (I used a vegetable peeler)
1/3 cup roasted almonds, chopped
5 Tb grapeseed oil
2 tsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2-1 tsp agave
2 heaping Tb fresh dill, chopped
bit of red onion, chopped (optional)

ALMONDS LENTILS

  1. Cook lentils in 2 cups of water over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes until cooked but still firm, stirring occasionally and adding more water to cover as necessary. Drain.
  2. While lentils are still warm, stir in 1/4 tsp salt, juice from half a lemon, and a couple grinds of black pepper. Let cool.
  3. Mix the oil, vinegar, dijon, agave, juice from the other lemon half, and a little salt and pepper by shaking in a closed jar or using one of those nifty salad dressing mixers. Taste and add more lemon juice if desired.
  4. Stir dressing, veggies, almonds, and dill into the lentils. Taste for seasonings. Let sit for at least half an hour before serving.

Yield: 3.5 cups

BEET, CARROT, LEMON

 

Red Beans & Rice

red beans and rice

Here is my recipe for weeknight (read: pantry-friendly!) red beans and rice. The thyme and the smokiness are essential flavors, though most of the ingredient list is actually pretty flexible: jarred roasted red peppers can be used in place of fresh, a bit of ground chipotle can be used in lieu of the liquid smoke, less tomatoes can be used for less saucy beans. Complete this dish with some garlicky braised collards or other greens, or serve with a nice big ol’ salad.

1 cup rice (I love brown basmati here)
bit of vegetable bouillon or pinch of salt (optional)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small frying or bell pepper (any color), or ¼ cup roasted red pepper, chopped
1½ tsp dried thyme
1/2 to 1 15-oz can fire-roasted chopped tomatoes
1 15-oz can red beans, drained and rinsed
1/8 tsp ground cayenne
drizzle or two of olive oil
couple splashes of liquid smoke

  1. Cook rice your preferred method, with a bit of bouillon or pinch of salt if desired.  Brown rice typically takes around 40 to 50 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook onion in olive oil over medium heat until slightly softened, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, chopped pepper, and thyme (and more oil if necessary). Cook for another 4 minutes or so.
  4. Add tomatoes and cayenne, turn up heat, let bubble a couple minutes.
  5. Turn down heat, add beans and liquid smoke, and simmer for a few minutes. Check for seasonings. Add beans to rice and serve with your favorite hot sauce.

Peach & Arugula Salad

Peach Arugula

Summer’s bounty has been glorious.  Corn, squash, green beans, chard, potatoes, tomatoes (oh the tomatoes!), apricots, plums, basil, and now–right now– peaches.  Ripe August peaches are the main event of this simple, Italian-inspired salad.  Eat it barefoot in a grassy field or at your kitchen counter, and just try not to get this song stuck in your head.

PeachPeach

*The ingredient amounts are rough approximations for one serving; adjust accordingly.

1 cup arugula
1/2 peach, sliced
1 TB sliced almonds
drizzle of olive oil
drizzle of balsamic vinegar
tiny pinch of sea salt

  1. Heat almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, watching very closely and
    agitating pan frequently, just until toasty and fragrant.
  2. Drizzle a bit of olive oil onto arugula, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and gently toss.
  3. Top greens with peach slices, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and almonds.

Peach

Grilled Miso-Ginger Eggplant with Soba

Miso Ginger Eggplant & Soba

Let me be clear about something: the only “grilling” I do is on my George Foreman.  That’s right, this one window kitchen is in a one bedroom rental in Brooklyn; the yard is a stoop, a view, and nearby public parks. If you do have access to an actual grill, by all means use it!  You can also use a stove-top grill, or any old frying pan (using a little high heat-friendly oil), browning on medium high heat, a few minutes per side.
*Note: Most soba noodles contain wheat and therefore gluten.  I used King Soba sweet potato-buckwheat noodles, which are gluten-free.
*Optional: If bitter eggplant is a concern, just salt it and set aside for at least 1/2 an hour beforehand.  (I didn’t bother.)

EggplantSoba

2-3 Japanese eggplants, sliced lengthwise
2 heaping TB miso
2 TB hot water
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp agave
1 TB freshly grated ginger
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Generous handful of fresh basil, chopped
1 package soba noodles
1 TB olive oil
1 TB wheat-free tamari (or regular soy sauce, if gluten is not a concern)
1-2 scallions, sliced (optional)
Sriracha for serving (optional)

  1. Pre-heat grill/cooking apparatus.
  2. Whisk together miso and hot water, then mix in the sesame oil, agave, ginger, and red pepper flakes.  Brush onto eggplant slices and grill for about 3 minutes, working in batches as necessary.
  3. Meanwhile cook soba in lightly salted water according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water, then quickly toss with olive oil and tamari.
  4. Top soba with eggplant, basil, and scallions (if using).  Serve with sriracha, if desired.

Basil

Summer Squash & Quinoa Salad

Summer Squash Quinoa

This salad is so fresh, so easy, so summery– perfect for the kind of sweltering days we’ve been having here in NY. Even without the quinoa, the raw squash salad makes a lovely side. Or you could bulk it up with some chickpeas and avocado.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed if necessary
½ square of vegetable bouillon, dissolved in 2 cups water
2-3 yellow squash, sliced thin
¼ cup pine nuts
Olive oil
Salt + black pepper, to taste
Fresh lemon juice, to taste (½ lemon should cut it)
A few leaves of fresh basil

  1. Make your quinoa. Toast quinoa in a teeny bit of olive oil in saucepan for a couple of minutes, just until fragrant. Add liquid and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit 15 minutes more. Then uncover, fluff with fork, and let cool.
  2. Toss squash with a few drizzles of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Let sit for a little while to allow flavors to mingle.
  3. Mix squash salad with quinoa and pine nuts. Add lemon juice and freshly torn basil, and taste for salt and pepper.

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse
I concocted this dreamy mousse for my boyfriend, who currently can’t eat sugar, gluten, or alcohol– but still needs his chocolate fix. Stevia can be tricky to work with because of its bitter flavor and unusual mouthfeel, but here that bitterness blends right in with the rich chocolate, while the creamy coconut milk rounds things out. The result is a dessert that is decadent and luscious and airy all at once.

1 (4 oz) bar 100% cocoa baking chocolate, chopped
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk (full fat)
30-35 drops vanilla stevia extract, preferably this kind
1 Tb agar powder
Optional garnishes: berries, shaved chocolate, cacao nibs, coconut, nuts

  1. Pour coconut milk into a cup and whisk in agar powder. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a double-boiler, gently melt chocolate over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.
  3. Whisk in coconut milk-agar mixture and stevia drops, starting with 30 drops and adding more if it tastes like it needs it. Turn heat up to high, and cook for about 2-3 minutes, whisking almost constantly and being careful not to let mixture burn.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  Using an electric mixer, mix for 1-2 minutes, until fluffy. Serve or keep in refrigerator for up to 5 days.  

Yield: about 10 servings

Chocolate MousseChocolate MousseChocolate Mousse